tuscany-trees

Long, balmy, rosé-tinted evenings with friends override our memories of sweltering morning commutes during the perpetual heatwave that hit the UK this summer. Consequently, we’ve been approaching autumn as a second-rate season. Bringing to life scenes akin to a desktop screensaver – think morning mist rising off burnt-orange hillsides – autumn may not always be the “sexiest” of seasons, but its allure is undeniable. If you can get past trading in your Birkens and bikinis for cosy knits and heavy coats, you’ll soon relish in autumn’s understated appeal.

1. New England, US

With scenes worthy of a Nancy Meyers movie, autumn sees the area’s forests and mountains shedding their summer greens in favour of flaming reds, warm oranges and bright yellows. For the archetypal American fall, rent a car and plan a road trip to experience nature at its most colourful. Whatever your route, be sure to include the New Hampshire Kacamagus Highway, where you can stop along the way to partake in traditions such as harvest festivals and pumpkin carvings.

2. Tokyo, Japan

Images of cherry blossom in full bloom cloud our minds when we think of Japan, but autumn offers a less-conjured herbaceous scene. “Koyo” is their name for this season, during which common sights like Mount Fuji and the zen gardens are framed by maple leaves in vibrant reds and honey hues. Walk the Gingko Avenue – a path lined either side with uniquely trimmed trees – and stop for a hot drink at a street-side café to sample momiji tempura (sugar-dipped maple leaves fried in tempura batter). As a bonus, this also happens to be the season of the Tokyo Ramen Show – recommended for obvious reasons.

3. Tuscany, Italy

The stuff of historical romance novels, Tuscany’s countryside serves up rural beauty year-round. Come autumn, the undulating hills and bountiful vineyards acquire their usual Titian palette; think amber leaves fusing with a burnt-orange sky. Harvest season also means you’ll be in for porcini mushrooms galore.

4. The Cotswolds, UK

Quintessentially English, the Cotswolds has long embodied rest and relaxation for weary city dwellers. Chocolate-box cottages, winding cobblestone paths, expansive woodlands and grand manor houses make up a landscape reminiscent of a Wordsworth poem. At this time of year, the area’s lushness exudes an altogether different beauty as its famed greens turn to ochre and deep reds while the air takes on a light chill. The order of the day is early morning walks on dewy hillsides and afternoon tea served fireside.

5. Montreal, Canada

Any autumn roundup needs at least one Canadian mention. The island city of Montreal makes the grade thanks to its remoteness and sense of adventure. Expect all the usuals; conker collecting, coffee shop pit stops and crisp evenings walks. Autumnal scenes aside, Montreal’s hearty food is as seasonal as a pumpkin spice latte, but decidedly less obvious. Apple picking is a rite of passage, so see if you can join some locals (ideally those with a working kitchen) and head a harvesting. Post-haul, make apple pie with the fruits of your labour.

6. Sonoma, US

Although Sonoma gifts us with wine all year-round, the vineyards are at their most enthralling in autumn. Trickier to navigate than neighbouring Napa Valley, it’s slightly less touristy. The site of California’s earliest planted vineyards, now is the time to don some overalls and get your hands – or rather feet – dirty with some grape crushing au naturale. The scenic vineyards consistently churn out some of the world’s best chardonnays. If wine isn’t your thing, farm-to-table restaurants and local markets dish up their freshest produce come harvesting season in Sonoma Valley.

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